Prevalence of Self-Reported Voice Concerns and Associated Risk Markers in a Nonclinical Sample of Military Service Members

Trevor T. Perry, Douglas S. Brungart, Jennifer Rae Myers, Laura L. Cord, Nancy Pearl Solomon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Difficult communication environments are common in military set-tings, and effective voice use can be critical to mission success. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of self-reported voice disorders among U.S. military service members and to identify factors that contribute to their voice concerns. Method: A nonclinical sample of 4,123 active-duty service members was recruited across Department of Defense hearing conservation clinics. During their required annual hearing evaluation, volunteers provided responses to voice-related questions including a slightly adapted version of the Voice Handi-cap Index-10 (VHI-10) as part of a larger survey about communication issues. Changepoint detection was applied to age and years of service to explore cohort effects in the reporting of voice concerns. Logistic regression analyses examined multiple available factors related to communication to identify factors associated with abnormal results on the VHI-10. Results: Among the respondents, 41% reported experiencing vocal hoarseness or fatigue at least several times per year, and 8.2% (n = 336) scored above the recommended abnormal cut-point value of 11 on the VHI-10. Factors indepen-dently associated with the greatest risk for self-reported voice concerns were sex (female), cadmium exposure, vocal demands (the need for a strong, clear voice), and auditory health measures (frequency of experiencing temporary threshold shifts; self-reported hearing difficulties). Conclusions: Based on self-reported voice concerns and false negative rates reported in the literature, the prevalence of dysphonia in a large sample of active-duty service members is estimated to be 11.7%, which is higher than that in the general population. Certain predictors for voice concerns were expected based on previous literature, like female sex and voice use, but fre-quency of temporary threshold shifts and exposure to cadmium were surprising. The strong link between voice and auditory problems has particular implications regarding the need for effective communication in high-noise military and other occupational environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3364-3381
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


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